Guide to making it Good Enough: Perfection is not an excuse to procrastinate

It feels unfinished, rough, incomplete and unperfected – Don’t worry it’s normal.

I often struggle, worrying that my new project should be “perfect” before it is shipped or shared. This need to have things perfect regularly gets in the way of doing anything at all. Apart from the wasted time and energy spent behind the scenes, it leads to missed daily opportunities for feedback, learning and outreach.

“The best is the enemy of the good”Voltaire

What you will learn

In this post you will learn how to recognise and avoid the perils of perfectionism and how to make use of an actionable framework to know when something is good enough.

Get the actionable framework

What is the Good Enough Principle

The good enough principle is popular in software development and means that the product/service meets its requirements, despite the availability of more advanced technology.
In 2007,the Gates foundation and Microsoft helped fund the publishing of the Good Enough pocket field guide for emergency workers. With the help of Major non-profits, gave workers ready to use information they could use in the field.

The definition at the beginning of the book was –

‘Good enough’ means choosing a simple solution over an elaborate one.

Good enough does not mean second best, it means acknowledging that, in an emergency response situation, adapting a quick and simple approach to impact measurement and accountability may be the only practical possibility

How it manifests in our minds

Creatives are prone to perfectionism, it’s the burden you will constantly carry. The voices of self-doubt is at its loudest when you start out, telling you that you have no business doing this and should stop now before you look foolish and embarrass yourself. All those voices are wrong

Common Perfectionist Triggers that you should avoid

 

What we tell ourselves

What ends up happening
I need to first get all my ducks in a row Fail to start
I need to wait until conditions are right Fail to start
I won’t be able to do it right Fail to try
I won’t be able to do it to the standard it should be done Fail to start
It  does what it needs to do, but it is not perfect Fail to ship/release

Why it manifests

As a creative you see projects in its ideal form, making it sometimes impossible to achieve the perfection you see in your mind. So realistically it will feel unrefined – but this is because your art is never finished.

Left unchecked, these feelings will tempt you to quit. No matter how bad it gets -You must not quit. In actual fact you should celebrate it because it indicates you have good taste.

 

When Expectation and Reality are unaligned

According to Jeff Goins, you should do the following when your expected result and actual performance are not in sync.

  • Allow for mistakes

 

Give yourself the opportunity to fail, failure is gift and provides useful feedback. It’s all part of the process and laugh it off even when it’s dreadful (it’s a wonderful form of self-forgiveness).

  • Keep Going

 

We don’t create because we’re creative, we are creative because we create -deep I know 🙂

So don’t hold back and keep shipping and keep creating the things you love. It can only get better.

 

  • Stop your Self-Sabotaging

 

Don’t beat yourself up everytime you review your work. Stop apologising before you start presenting your work it’s not modesty or humility its low self-esteem. It does nothing for your audience but make them pity and ignore you.

 

  • Beta Mindset

Software that is branded with a beta, is afforded protection and pre-forgiven for errors . You should adopt this mindset, by pre-forgiving yourself for any errors your project may contain, and allow it to be perfected in the marketplace.

Why I should use it

‘Good Enough’ is a flexible and frugal approach to innovation. Entrepreneurs generally operate in two markets, being the emerging and developed market.

Emerging Market

Characteristic:

This market is challenged with scarcity and instability  

How Good Enough Innovation benefits this market

  • More affordable
  • Easier to use and maintain
  • Mass-market ready

Examples of success

An Indian entrepreneur, riddled with the problem of “How can I make a refrigerator that does not need electricity”. Using ‘Good Enough’ design principals made the ‘Mitticool’- a highly affordable fridge that requires no electricity, and keeps food, water and dairy cool in the Western deserts of India.

Developed Market

Characteristic:

This market is challenged with complexity and over-engineering  

How Good Enough Innovation benefits this market

  • Caters to the middle-class that seek value for money
  • Focus on consumers that prefer simpler user-friendly products and services
  • Considers consumers willing to trade more features for time-saving alternatives

Examples of success

A Google team was demoing an early prototype, map solution to Senior management  Despite the reservations of the developing team, Larry and Sergey, so the legend goes, simply said “it’s already good enough. Ship it.” Google Maps is a huge success and its success is rooted in its ability to doing one thing really well. As, Eric Ries describes, “its lack of extra features emphasised its differentiation. Shipping sooner accentuated this difference, and it took competitors a long time to catch up.”

Initially, Saleforce.com was a web-based tool to help sales people track sales calls. It was a specialised application with basic features tailored to salespeople that had an affordable pricing model.

While history has and will produce many examples of successful good enough applications, a “fit-for-purpose” application is the primary example of making it ‘good enough’.

 

Good Enough vs Quality

 

“As Carlos Teixeira, an assistant professor at the School of Design Strategies at Parsons said “Good enough is a trade-off, but with good design, the user experience doesn’t feel compromised.” Good enough design, he said, requires going beyond consumption and production to having a deep understanding of the ecosystem—from consumer needs to distribution.

Case in point, while music lovers can hear the difference between uncompressed music formats such as CDs, and highly compressed MP3s, the overwhelming preference is for MP3s because the intuitive platforms on which these compressed files operate (iTunes, MP3 players) are simple and user-friendly. Specifically, they make it easier to listen to more music and share this music with others. The listener’s choice, as a result, becomes less about quality and more about usability and simplicity.

Good-enough products deliver higher value because they are designed to do one thing exceptionally well (functional specialisation), rather than handling multiple things in a mediocre fashion, which can leave users frustrated and confused.”

Good enough is not an excuse for releasing a sub-standard offering, it has to do with focusing on important functionality that is relevant to the customer. You should always create high-quality products. Let’s be honest here, nobody wants to build or buy mediocre things. It’s a lose-lose situation.

 

So how do I implement Good Enough principles when I am working on my Side Project?

 

You only need to ask yourself 1 question

Does my solution do what it is intended to do, exceptionally well, for my users.

In the workbook below, we break this question down even further, and it provides insight into how you can make your side project “Good Enough”.

Here is a snippet of what you can expect:


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The bottom line is to embrace focused pragmatism. Being cognizant of Voltaire’s quote with which we started can conclude by saying that: What is best is not ideal, but that which works.

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